Tag Archives: Wyoming

The Oil and Gas Industry’s Latest Scheme Would All but Privatize Public Lands

Source: Jimmy Tobias, Pacific Standard, September 11, 2017

Having failed to turn over control of federal lands to state governments and private interests, anti-conservationists in Congress are at work on their next scheme: partially privatizing the public domain by allowing states to take charge of energy development on vast swaths of land owned by the United States Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management. This agenda was on full display at a Capitol Hill hearing last week when the House Natural Resources Committee convened a forum on the Federal Land Freedom Act of 2017, a bill that has nothing to do with freedom and everything to do with avarice. The bill would allow industry-dominated state governments like Wyoming and Utah and Oklahoma to manage the leasing, permitting, and regulating of oil, gas, and other fossil fuel production on national lands. It would allow states to have near-total dominion over huge accumulations of federally owned mineral resources. And it would effectively exempt oil and gas drillers from the Endangered Species Act, the National Environmental Policy Act, and other laws meant to protect public resources from pollution and destruction at the hands of commercial enterprise. For its right-wing proponents, the Federal Land Freedom Act is a solid step toward full disposal of some federal lands.

… According to the Wilderness Society, a land conservation non-profit, the Federal Land Freedom Act represents just “the latest push in a broader anti-public lands movement that has exploded into prominence in the last few years at the state, congressional, and administrative levels.” It is just the latest “land seizure” scheme, as the Center for Western Priorities calls it, to emerge from the muck of Washington, D.C. But what a shameless and telling scheme it is: An extremely powerful industry dominates state governments and hopes to dominate the federal government too. It essentially hires elected officials to do its bidding, and those officials deliver a proposed law that would allow said industry to have its way with millions of acres of land that rightfully belong to all Americans. They deliver a bill that would gut public interest laws and eliminate conservation protections in the name of corporate profits and private gain. …

County may privatize library cafe

Source: CJ Baker, Powell Times, August 3, 2017

After years of subsidizing the Cody library’s cafe with thousands of taxpayer dollars, Park County leaders say it may be time to turn the Biblio Bistro over to a private business. …Over the coming year, the Bistro is projected to lose more than $49,500 — about the same amount it’s lost in the last several years. The consensus reached among the commissioners and library leaders on Tuesday was that the county and library system can no longer afford to subsidize the cafe to that degree. County officials decided to start drafting a request for proposals (RFP), in which private businesses would be invited to submit proposals on how they might use the Biblio Bistro’s space in the Cody library and how much they’d be willing to pay in rent. … Library officials and commissioners will discuss the RFP again at another work session.

15 Lawmakers Plotting to Privatize America’s Public Lands

Source: EcoWatch, March 17, 2017

…Despite the irreplaceable value these places hold, in recent years, a concerted effort has been driven forward by certain senators and U.S. representatives to seize, dismantle, destroy and privatize our public lands. These lawmakers are backed by fossil fuel corporations and other extractive industries that already squeeze massive profits out of America’s public lands and only want more. In order to realize this goal, every year these corporations push millions of dollars toward federal lawmakers to motivate them to introduce and pass legislation that would have the effect of either fully privatizing public lands or opening them up to unfettered extraction and development. The Center for Biological Diversity issued a report that analyzed 132 bills that were introduced in the past three congressional sessions, between 2011 and 2016, and identified the lawmakers who authored and cosponsored the greatest number of these bills. The list of “Public Lands Enemies” that emerged includes nine members of the U.S. House of Representatives and six U.S. senators from eight western states: Alaska, Arizona, California, Idaho, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah and Wyoming.

These 15 Public Lands Enemies are:
1. Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah)
2. Rep. Rob Bishop (R-Utah, 1st District)
3. Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah)
4. Rep. Paul Gosar (R-Ariz., 4th District)
5. Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.)
6. Rep. Chris Stewart (R-Utah, 2nd District)
7. Rep. Don Young (R-Alaska, At Large)
8. Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.)
9. Rep. Raúl Labrador (R-Idaho, 1st District)
10. Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah, 3rd District)
11. Rep. Mark Amodei (R-Nev., 2nd District)
12. Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska)
13. Rep. Steve Pearce (R-N.M., 2nd District)
14. Rep. Tom McClintock (R-Calif., 4th District)
15. Sen. Dean Heller (R-Nev.)

Read full report.

Related:

How Politicians Are Using Taxpayer Money To Fund Their Campaign To Sell Off America’s Public Lands
Source: Matt Lee-Ashley, ThinkProgress, June 18, 2014

…According to a ThinkProgress analysis, the American Lands Council (ALC) — an organization created to help states to claim ownership of federal lands — has collected contributions of taxpayer money from government officials in 18 counties in Utah, 10 counties in Nevada, four counties in Washington, three counties in Arizona, two counties in Oregon, two counties in New Mexico, and one county in Colorado, Idaho, and Wyoming. In total, county-level elected officials have already paid the ALC more than $200,000 in taxpayer money. A list of these counties and their “membership levels” can be seen on the ALC website. Since its inception in 2012, the ALC has been working with the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), a conservative front group backed by the oil and gas industry and billionaire brothers Charles and David Koch, to pass state-level legislation demanding that the federal government turn over federally owned national forests and public lands to Western states. So far, Utah is the only state to have signed a law calling for the seizure of federal lands, but Nevada, Idaho, Wyoming, and Montana have passed bills to study the idea and further action is expected in statehouses during 2015 legislative sessions….

Sioux Falls protests VA privatization

Source: Jack Taylor, KELO, July 26, 2016

If your going by the Sioux Falls VA between 11 a.m. and noon today you’ll see a protest against privatizing the government hospitals. Jane Nygaard with the American Federation of Government employees says the Koch brothers are behind “Concerned Veterans of America” which is working to privatize the VA. Nygaard asks why would the nation privatize VA hospitals when that act wouldn’t provide the specialized care that veterans need. … he says polls nationwide show that 80% of veterans say they do not want the VA privatized.  She says the VA Commission on Care report says the VA gives the best quality care to veterans and for lesser cost to taxpayers. …

Related:

Union, veterans protest potential VA privatization
Source: Matt Murphy, Wyoming Tribune Eagle, July 7, 2016

Concern over Congress privatizing Veterans Affairs health-care services led local union members and military veterans to protest near Cheyenne’s VA Medical Center Wednesday morning. A couple dozen people stood on either side of Pershing Boulevard near the roundabout at Converse Avenue beginning at about 7 a.m. They waved small American flags and held blue signs with gold lettering that read, “Veterans for a Strong VA,” “Staff the VA” and “VA Workers for a Strong VA.” … If the system is privatized, he said, there is concern that level of care will be lost. Further, Massan said there is concern that portability, or the ability for military veterans to use VA facilities nationwide, could disappear. Talk of privatizing VA medical services has come up at the federal level through the years, including this year. The Commission on Care, a panel created by Congress to analyze the services provided by the VA, has been studying the issue for several months – including privatization. The panel issued its final report Tuesday, which recommended overhauling the VA system and expanding access to private health care, but not full privatization, according to the Federal Times and the Wall Street Journal. …

Local private sector help for VA projects backed at Senate hearing
Source: Joseph Morton, Omaha World-Herald, June 30, 2016

A proposal to build new veterans health facilities through public-private partnerships received a warm reception Wednesday at a Senate Veterans Affairs Committee hearing. Sen. Deb Fischer, R-Neb., presented legislation to allow those partnerships, saying Americans’ confidence in the care provided to veterans has been shaken. … It’s a key issue for the Omaha area, which has seen a $560 million replacement for its aging VA hospital stalled by cost overruns and delays on other VA projects. Local donors have rallied to the idea of a public-private partnership that would instead construct a $136 million ambulatory care facility — a scaled-down but presumably much more achievable approach. Involving the private sector in VA construction projects can help them progress more smoothly, Fischer said. … It’s unclear exactly when the bills will come up for votes, but Ashford and Fischer talked about seeking congressional action by September and certainly before the end of the year. Several veterans organizations on Wednesday offered testimony supporting the legislation. The VA also offered its strong support for the bill while raising a technical issue on some of the language.

Local union workers and veterans protest VA privatization
Source: Ethan Levin, Michigan Daily, June 22, 2016

About 50 veterans, union employees and family members gathered at the Ann Arbor Veterans Affairs Hospital Wednesday to protest the proposed federal privatization of veteran health care. The protest was organized by the American Federation of Labor and the American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE). … Amie Pounds, a national organizer for AFGE, and James Jr. agreed that the congressional commission’s assessments have been not only inaccurate but also swayed by private corporations’ profit interests. According to Pounds, of the 15 members on the commission, not one can be linked to a mainstream veterans service organization. Rather, the panel is comprised of primarily private hospital executives who stand only to benefit financially from privatizing the VA. …

Vet Groups Uniting To Oppose Privatized Care, Defend VA
Source: Terry Howell, Military Advantage, June 23, 2016

The nation’s leading veteran services organizations are rallying behind the Department of Veterans Affairs and its beleaguered health care system, touting the experience of staff, the breadth of services and its holistic approach to care delivery that they argue the private sector cannot match. The VSOs are warning of politicians and groups with agendas that constantly criticize VA health care, refuse to acknowledge reforms and thus advance a camouflaged campaign to dismantle VA health care. They also say it is time to better educate their own members on actions being taken to improve to the healthcare system that millions of veterans rely upon. …

CCA deal boosts investment in half-way houses

Source: Getahn Ward, The Tennessean, October 29, 2015

Corrections Corporation of America now also touts itself as the largest domestic owner of community corrections beds after buying Oklahoma-based halfway house operator Avalon Correctional Services on Thursday. With that $157.5 million deal, CCA now operates 17 re-entry facilities totaling 4,365 beds. For Nashville-based CCA, the push into the residential reintegration market is aimed in part at expanding relationships with existing clients such as the federal Bureau of Prisons. On any given day, that agency has roughly 9,000 inmates in re-entry facilities nationwide and has been seeking additional funding to expand that program. … The $157.5 million price includes $7.5 million in earn-outs incentives. CCA expects the acquisition to increase its annual revenues by up to $40 million.

Ambulance board inks $12 million contract

Source: Jen Sieve-Hicks, Buffalo Bulletin, September 16, 2015

The Johnson County Ambulance Rural Healthcare District board penned a new multi-million dollar contract with Buffalo EMS last week. Although an existing contract with Buffalo EMS was set to renew for five years starting Sept. 20, the new deal includes a 10-year contract that automatically renews for another 10 years. For the past three years, Buffalo EMS has been paid in excess of $600,000 annually to operate and administer the ambulance service. Hence, the total value of the new contract will likely exceed $12 million. … In addition to the budgeted expenses that will be paid by the Rural Health Board, Buffalo EMS will also garner 20 percent of any net proceeds collected from patients utilizing the ambulance service—previously Buffalo EMS received 15 percent of profits. Without the new contract, the Rural Health District was set to retain 100 percent of net proceeds from ambulance use beginning Sept. 20.

Virginia, Ohio Outline Transportation Privatization Plans; Wyoming Shifts to Pavement Preservation for Now

Source: Sean Slone, Council of State Governments, Knowledge Center, June 8, 2012

…The [Virginia] project pipeline list includes both well-established transportation projects that are candidates for P3s as well as new transportation concepts under consideration. The eight established candidates include improvement projects along the I-95, I-64 and I-66 corridors and expansion of the Port of Virginia. The list of 14 conceptual projects includes truck parking facilities and electric car charging stations at rest areas, privatization of parking facilities, and advertising/sponsorship opportunities…..

….Another cheerleader for transportation public-private partnerships, Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels, was touting their benefits during a visit of to Washington last week. In 2006, Indiana contracted with the private sector to have them operate the Indiana East-West Toll Road for 75 years in exchange for $3.8 billion, which the state used to create Major Moves, a plan to fund other infrastructure projects in the state…..

…In addition to dangling the Ohio Turnpike to investors as part of efforts to cut costs and produce new revenues, state transportation officials are also looking into paying private contractors to plow snow, fill potholes and maintain I-270 in central Ohio and the stretch of I-71 between Columbus and Cincinnati, The Columbus Dispatch reported this week….

Hospital Deals Are Abundant, And Not Always Welcomed

Source: Christopher Chung, Shasha Dai and Beina Xu, Wall Street Journal, March 29, 2011

RegionalCare Hospital Partners, which signed a letter of intent to buy a Rhode Island hospital in February, has made an unsolicited offer to run Cheyenne Regional Medical Center in Wyoming. RegionalCare, backed by Warburg Pincus LLC, is one of several private equity-owned chains seeking to expand….Saint Mary’s Hospital in Waterbury, Conn., spent about five years looking for ways to deal with its capital constraints, as well as the future pressures health-care reform could bring. After an arduous process, it finally found its answer in LHP Hospital Group, which provides capital and expertise to non-profit hospitals and is backed by CCMP Capital Advisors and Canada Pension Plan Investment Board….Cerberus Capital Management LP-owned Steward Health Care System LLC made a $1.1 billion offer to buy troubled Miami-area public hospital operator Jackson Health System, which provides indigent and charity care. Steward didn’t get a response to its non-binding letter of interest to the hospital’s oversight commission, the Public Health Trust.